Fulltime score: Round 13 Newcastle Knights 16 v Brisbane Broncos 34 Match summary: The Brisbane Broncos have posted a convincing 34-16 victory over the Newcastle Knights at EnergyAustralia Stadium today.
With a huge Newcastle crowd on hand, all eyes were on skipper and half back Andrew Johns and his keenly anticipated return from injury. In the opening 15 minutes, the last-placed Knights dominated the competition leaders, completing their sets and scoring two early tries to take a 10-0 lead.
But with five eighth Darren Lockyer directing traffic, the Broncos struck back, scoring the next three tries and at half time, the Brisbane side held a narrow 14-10 lead.
The Broncos extended their lead in the second half, scoring three more tries before the Knights finally crossed for a consolation try just before full time.
Still yet to post a victory in 2005, the Newcastle side gave their supporters some signs that a first up win isnt too far away. With Andrew Johns back on deck, the Knights did show some spark which has been missing from previous encounters.
The Broncos win may have been costly with powerhouse utility Tonie Carroll being forced off in the first half with a calf injury. The news no doubt throwing a spanner in the works of the Queensland selections for State of Origin II.
On the Knights' injury front, veteran centre Matt Gidley reportedly limped off with a suspected groin injury.
Scorers: NEWCASTLE KNIGHTS 16 Tries: Carmont, Thaiday, Tanner Goals: Johns 2/3 BRISBANE BRONCOS 34 Tries: Minto 2, S Berrigan, Bott, Tate, Carlaw Goals: Lockyer 5/7
EnergyAustralia Stadium Crowd: 22,423 Referee: Jason Robinson Half time: Broncos 14-10
Live commentary: 0 min: Fine conditions in Newcastle today. Kick off soon...
Players getting ready to come onto the field. The Knights' fans will welcome the return of Andrew Johns. For Newcastle, Kurt Gidley is out and replaced by Jarrod Mullen. For Brisbane, Brad Thorn is out, Corey Parker come into the run on side wand Brent Tate is added to the Broncos' bench.
Newcastle Knights hoping to break their duck today in front of huge crowd of over 20,000.
Broncos kick off and it's game on!
3 min: TRY - Knights. Centre George Carmont scores following some great lead up work from Danny Buderus. Knights get back-to-back sets early on. Conversion from Andrew Johns is successful. Knights 6-0
6 min: NO TRY - Broncos denied after winger Leon Bott is deemed by video ref to have lost control of the ball. Knights off the hook.
10 min: NEWS - Game is being played at a wild pace with both sides showing the class.
14 min: TRY - Knights. Winger Milton Thaiday scores in the corner after the Knights set up an overlap on the right side. Great start from the Knights who have completed 10 from 10 sets. Conversion from Johns is unsuccessful. Knights 10-0
20 min: Still 10-0 to the home side. Knights enjoying over 60% of the ball.
24 min: TRY - Broncos. Winger Scott Minto crashes over in the corner after being set up by centre Justin Hodges who is causing some problems for the Newcastle defence. Follows repeat sets. Darren Lockyer's conversion attempt is waved away. Knights 10-4
28 min: HELD UP. Knights' forward Clint Newtown held up over the line after some great lead up work from Johns. In the next play the ball is kicked dead. Broncos off the hook.
30 min: NEWS - Broncos and Maroons forward Tonie Carroll forced off with a calf injury.
34 min: TRY - Broncos. Scott Minto gets a double in good position after a shocker of a grubber kick from Justin Hodges turns to gold. Minto soccers it forward, getting the ball down just inside the line and survives video ref scrutiny. Lockyer converts from almost in front. 10-all
36 min: 40/20 KICK - Darren Lockyer gets the Broncos on the attack, kicking into the wind.
37 min: TRY - Broncos. Centre Shaun Berrigan crosses to break the back of the Knights just before half time, the Broncos scoring from the scrum. Wide conversion attempt from Lockyer is unsuccessful. Broncos 14-10
Half time: Broncos 14-10 The Broncos really stepping up in the back end of the first half after the Knights looked the goods early on. A highly entertaining 40 minutes of football with Knights forward Steve Simpson leading the way for Knights up front. Coming back from injury, half back and skipper Andrew Johns is still finding his feet but has played solidly and set up a number of plays. For the Broncos, centre Justin Hodges is finding a few opportunities wide of the ruck with front rowers Shane Webcke and Petero Civoniceva providing the go forward and David Stagg proving to be the best of the Broncos' defenders.
Johns kicks off and the second half is underway...
NEWS - Knights full back David Seage has an arm injury but is now able to take the field.
44 min: NO TRY - Knights denied and a 20 metre re-start for the Broncos after Jarrod Mullen is unable to cleanly ground the ball.
55 min: TRY - Broncos. Leon Bott has come flying through to score in the corner following a Broncos' scrum win. Lockyer converts from the sideline. Broncos 20-10
NEWS - Confirming that Tonie Carroll, who was forced off in the first half, has a torn calf muscle.
61 min: TRY - Broncos. Brent Tate scores after Barry Berrigan goes straight through out of dummy half. Conversion Lockyer from in front. Broncos 26-10
63 min: NEWS - Broncos come within a whisker of scoring after a flying Leon Bott breaks through but are stopped by some brilliant and desperate cover defence from forward Clint Newton.
72 min: NEWS - Andrew Johns has hit David Stagg with a high shot and lucky not to be placed on report. A blot in an otherwise top class effort from the Knights half back.
74 min: PENALTY GOAL - Broncos. Lockyer. Broncos 28-10
76 min: TRY - Broncos. Dane Carlaw intercepts a Johns' pass and runs away to score under the posts. Lockyer Converts. Broncos 34-10
79 min: TRY - Knights. Reegan Tanner scores a consolation try on the right side. Johns converts. Broncos 34-16
FULL TIME: Broncos 34 defeat Knights 16 The Brisbane Broncos simply proving too good overall. The Knights started the game in great form but fell away with errors and laspes as the match wore on and as result, still find themselves winless in 2005 and languishing in last place on the ladder. Best players for the Knights were Steve Simpson who topped the tackle count and Matt Gidley who carted the ball up all day through the centres. Gidley unfortnately limping off late in the match with what might be a groin injury. Andrew Johns played well in a losing side, off-loading often and getting involved. Apart from a couple of errors late in the game, he looked in good form and may be in with a show for NSW selection.
The Broncos maintain top spot on the League ladder with a solid display across the park. Darren Lockyer was again inspirational at five eighth, setting up play and doing plenty in defence. In the first half, Justin Hodges was in fine forum in attack. Forwards Shane Webcke, David Stagg, and Petero Civoniceva all put in a sterling effort.
----------------------------------------- Leagueunlimited.com players of the match: 3 - D Lockyer (Broncos) 2 - S Webcke (Broncos) 1 - S Simpson (Knights) -----------------------------------------